Rae: Thank you so much for hanging out with me today.
Damon: And thank you so much for having me. 🙂
Rae: First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking an iced mocha latte with Coconut milk. What would you order?
Damon: A real chai, none of that syrupy Starbuck stuff. 🙂 Earlier this year I stayed with Sonali Dev in Chicago and all weekend she made me this amazing chai that her parents had brought from Mumbai, with fresh ginger grated into it. Heaven!
Rae: That sounds yummy! We met at RT Booklovers in Atlanta this past spring. Not only was our encounter fun, you were extremely generous with your time! My time was packed with places and people I wanted to meet. Were you able to connect with authors of books you read?
Damon: Absolutely. It’s one of my favorite things about RT every year I wind up meeting all these amazing authors and picking up books I never would’ve found otherwise and in the next year I get to go back and party with them. That’s one of my favorite things about romance events: the way Romancelandia extends beyond the physical space. I always say, “ugly carpets, nice people!” It feels like such a blessing, the romance community, and the folks who write the books I love are the people who get to party w-ith. Where else in the world does that happen?
Rae: Is there a topic or panel that you would love to discuss or be a part of but haven’t yet at a convention or conference?
Damon: I dunno… I talk a whole lot. LOL but now that you mention it, I wish more attention got paid to tropes in the genre. Fans love them, authors live by them, our entire industry hinges on them, but tropes tend to get short shrift in programming. Maybe it’s because they’re so complicated and so personal. Hard to say. But I love tracing and tracking the way tropes evolve over time, the way fans embrace and discard tropes. They’re fascinating.
Rae: For readers who are not familiar with your books can you tell us what sparked your desire to write romance? Where do you find inspiration for your stories and how long does it take you to write a novel from start to finish? What is your favorite genre to write?
Damon: Whew! Okay. A lot to answer there. 🙂 I first wrote romance on a dare: I was still screenwriting full time and a friend of mine was working on a book and I helped her with a plot problem and she legit dared me to write a book. I wrote my first book in six weeks, sold it in two days, and it was number one for six months on Amazon. I couldn’t believe it. After two weeks, I called my agent and said, “I never wanna work for the Weinstein brothers or Miramax again!” LOL Romance was so liberating, so fresh after years in showbiz; I didn’t have to wrestle with an entire shoot crew or worry what a director or star might do a story. I could just let to people fall in love and unpack all that emotion the way I wanted to. It was just so freeing, so inspiring. The funny thing is, I haven’t written that many books but I’m actually a very fast writer…I’m just fussy. I’d say the average book takes me three months to finish. And as for genre, I am a proud genre slut: I love them all so wherever the story takes me I follow.
Rae: Your previous jobs are impressive and fun! How much of your previous careers have found it’s way into any of your stories?
Damon: Well in a way, all of ’em. I grew up in Texas where my family still keeps a ranch which absolutely influenced the farm and town Lickety Split. I lived for several years on the Upper East Side of Manhattan amongst hyperpolished A-gays which is where the setting for Pent Up started. I’ve written comics, directed film, and acted and those jobs turned up in Bad Idea. I have a weird secret life as an academic with a degree in religion which definitely had an influence on the daemonology in Horn Gate. Even the Brooklyn in Hot Head comes from personal experience and long stretches hanging out with first responders in sketchy bars. LOLOL
Rae: When you are not sitting at your desk, in your chair, or wherever you find your inspiration to craft, what do you read to fuel your mind?
Damon: Lord. Everything! I read 1200 words a minute so my book consumption is like a wood chipper: history, science, sociology, lit crit, poetry, theology, true crime, biography, pulps… And of course I read tons and tons of romance and other genre fiction because I’m always trying to learn how to do my job better. But I mulch my muse with as much fresh, interesting content as I can lay my paws on. I never want to get stale. I’m always looking for the next thing, a fresh perspective.
Rae: What was the craziest thing you researched for a book you were working on?
Damon: Hmmm. I think it’s a tossup… either types of grass raised for hay bailing operations, which I spent four days researching for Lickety Split because I wanted to get the family business right, or else eels because Grown Men was about terraforming and eel ranching, which led to two weeks of reading and an afternoon on a boat watching fishermen club eels to death. Intense, but very very instructive when it came to writing sci-fi seafood ranching.
Rae: What inspired you to serve on the Romance Writers of America Board? Has your time on the board changed your perspective of the romance writing process?
Damon: I was originally appointed, which felt weird at first. As it happened, right before Diane Kelly took office, two board members stepped down and she wanted to focus on increasing RWA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. I gotta be honest, I turned her down for nine days because I didn’t really believe she was serious. Diversity push? Yeah right. Finally, my husband gave me a stern talking to and said if I passed up the opportunity to make a difference I’d kick myself for the rest of my life. Well color me an idiot… In our first meeting, Diane and the rest of the Directors made my doubts seem ridiculous and that year was in many ways a watershed for RWA’s future planning. After that first year I couldn’t run for the board fast enough. Working with these brilliant, talented women has completely changed the writer I am and the way I work in this industry. I have a completely different grasp and respect for our industry. There’s so much history, so much insight that comes from knuckling down and solving problems with folks this talented, gracious, and experience. Amazing. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Rae: What can we expect to see in 2017?
Damon: Well, aside from the Second Chance anthology which just came out I’m getting close to finishing a new royal romance which I’m having a blast with. Saucy tabloid misbehavior in excelsis. LOL I don’t have a hard date on release but that will be next and I think the fans will seriously dig it.
Rae: Readers, I featured a review and excerpt of Twice Shy, Damon’s tale in the Second Chance Anthology earlier this morning. You can read it here. Where can readers find you in the upcoming months?
Damon: Geez. I’m all over! LOL I’m traveling a lot, which I love. 🙂 Denver, Orange County, Houston, Valley Forge, even Bristol in the UK. There’s a full schedule of my workshops and convention appearances at my site if folks are looking for me and I post updates on all my social media feeds.
Rae: Thank you again
Damon: Thank you, Rae! I had a great time.
***** Tantalizing Tidbits *******
1. What is a must read book and why? Everything I Left Unsaid by Molly O’Keefe… She’s a brilliant stylist, with a sexy, snarky sense of suspense. Deeply emotional and personal in the best ways. This book just grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go.
2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? The next time you make it to NYC you should check out the view of the Manhattan Bridge from the waterfront in Brooklyn Heights. Every square inch looks like a shot from a saucy 1930s musical about Manhattan.
3. Best vacation destination? Prague. Amazing people, amazing food, amazing artwork.
4. What is your guilty pleasure? Well, I don’t believe in Feeling guilty about my pleasures. But probably the thing other people would feel guilty about that I do is collecting and savoring the worst films on the planet. Flop-tastic! I have hundreds and hundreds of the most god-awful films ever created and I watch them with shameless abandon and delight. That’s how Cinema Craptastique was born, actually. Fans had heard about my bad movie collection and the hardcore fiasco marathons in my loft, so we got public with the cheese! 😀
5. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? No tats. I’m too much of an editor so the minute I chose one I’d want to change my mind. LOL Every so often I flirt with getting something that seems PERFECT and then the next week I’m relieved I didn’t.
6. Organized or Free Floating? Worse! I’m a free floating organizer. The most infuriating qualities of each. 😛 I’m always riffing and improvising, but I’m fiddling and fussing and revising as I do it. Like an actor with a screenwriter sending pages telepathically every second of a shoot. LOL I love the wacky freedom but I also want the framework. Roses need a trellis! LOL
7. What’s on your playlist? Movie scores. When I’m writing I don’t like lyrics because I find them distracting, but for the last 25 years I collected movie scores in every genre because I love the emotions and the texture and I can build a kind of soundscape for whatever I’m working on.
8. What is one thing you can’t live without? Books. I literally read every day, sometimes as many as four books in a day. My entire loft looks like the library from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. F’realz. The idea of having to survive without interesting stuff to feed my mind makes me want to jump out of an airplane eating a razor while cutting my wrists with a sushi knife. I love books in a way I don’t know how to articulate properly. They are lanterns on the unlit path and safe harbor in stormy seas. Books save me more often than I’d care to admit.
Rae: Thanks again for hanging out! Time for another Iced-Coffee 🙂
Damon: You’re awesome! Can’t wait to hang the next time we’re in the same zipcode!
Rae: Happy Reading Damon
Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. He has lived all over and along the way, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter. He has been happily partnered for over a decade with the most loving, handsome, shrewd, hilarious, noble man to walk this planet.
Damon is a proud member of the Romance Writers of America and the Rainbow Romance Writers. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades, which is both more and less glamorous than you might imagine. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year..
Damon would love to hear from you…. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com